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True Colours Workshops Chester, and My Experience - Rowan Jane

As Project Co-Ordinator for True Colours, I was tasked with helping to organise the workshops, creating content plans for each session, and being there as Lead Artist to deliver the activities at each session. This was a really exciting opportunity for me as a young trans artist - I am thrilled to have been able to deliver these workshops to my community!

I wanted to fulfil the goals of the True Colours workshops effectively, which are to give LGBTQ+ individuals in West Cheshire the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to encourage positive mental health and wellbeing.

I personally find the accessibility of art to be extremely important for all people. Allowing participants to access a variety of different art practices has been essential in sparking and rekindling participants interest in visual arts. The workshops have also been an avenue for the creation of a regular safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals of a variety of ages and lived experiences, allowing them to momentarily step back from potentially stressful daily life. I also personally found this aspect very important. As an LGBTQ+ artist who had also felt the strain of daily life affecting my own ability to create art, I was in much the same position as many participants. Leading the workshops has helped me in a very similar way!

The True Colours workshops allowed participants to engage in activities such as collage, sculpture, pottery, and mixed media portraiture. As lead artist, I used my personal knowledge and connections with other artists working with Radiate Arts in our workshops – Eight Art Therapy and The Art Bus Chester – to guide participants through the activities in each session.

First we created collages - this was a very free and participant-led activity, and everyone came up with something very different and unique to them. Through these collages, we also explored ideas of LGBTQ+ identity, such as gender questioning and the transgender experience. It was a really nice way to introduce a safe and welcoming space to participants, where we could all be free to discuss our ideas together.

Next, we worked with Jo at the Art Bus Chester to create some amazing pottery slabs and pots. This activity was great and very refreshing because there was little pressure and the only goal was to have fun! Many participants were also trying something new!

We also had group Art Therapy sessions throughout the workshops, led by Sj at Eight Art Therapy. These sessions provided participants with the tools to focus on mental wellbeing, for example the guided meditation sessions were very insightful and the group creative activities were really relaxed and fun!

Finally, we spent several sessions creating 'Personal Portraits' using paint and collage, in which participants were able to create something to represent themselves that we could eventually display in our celebration exhibitions!

In planning these sessions, I found it important to drawn attention to famous and historical artists who are also LGBTQ+, such as Claude Cahun and Keith Haring. I found this helped participants not only to learn about LGBTQ+ art history but also to develop ideas about how they can express LGBTQ+ issues through art.

I found my role as Lead Artist to be very personally rewarding. It has really helped me to consider my role as a young LGBTQ+ artist in the local community. Within the group, I have learned from the enthusiastic conversations that participants engage in each session and have had the opportunity to meet local LGBTQ+ individuals that I never thought I would be friends with.

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